Bantamweight fights have excited BoxNation viewers for years. Right now, 118lb top dog Naoya Inoue is one of the world’s pound-for-pound greats and the division is stacked with talent.
The Channel of Champions will be bringing more action from the exciting weight class John Riel Casimero defend his ‘interim’ WBO belt against Mexican, Cesar Ramirez in the Philippines on Saturday 24th August.
Here, BoxNation pundit Steve Lillis names his top 10 Bantamweights:
10. CARLOS CUADRAS (Mexico)
[Image credit: Promociones del Pueblo]
Cuadras, who came through six WBC Super-Flyweight Title defences before losing to Roman Gonzalez in September 2016, lost his way after that and lost twice more at 115lb. Cuadras has had two wins at Bantamweight, the most recent in May against Daniel Lozano. He still has a fine name and his reputation should ensure a World Title fight inside the next 18 months if he remains in winning form.
9. JASON MOLONEY (Australia)
[Image credit: Michael Klein]
He has bounced back with two wins since losing a split-decision against Emmanuel Rodriguez in October 2018. Like a lot of contenders he will have to see how the land lays once the WBSS pans out before plotting his next World Title assault. He says he is desperate for revenge against Rodriguez.
8. TAKUMA INOUE (Japan)
The 23-year-old younger brother of Naoya Inoue won the interim WBC belt last December when he outpointed Tasana Salapat who was 48-0. He forged a solid reputation as an amateur where he compiled a 52-5 record winning National Titles. Talks are ongoing for him to face Nordine Oubaali in the autumn.
7. NORDINE OUBAALI (France)
He is now 33, but only been boxing professionally since March 2014. His breakout came in January he won the vacant WBC crown against Raushee Warren and in his only defence in July forced Arthur Villanueva to retire after six rounds. He is skilful, has fair power and was a top class amateur winning bronze at the 2007 World Championships.
6. JOHN RIEL CASIMERO (Philippines)
One of the division’s hidden talents who has won World Titles Light-Flyweight and Flyweight where he shocked Amnat Ruenroeng twice and then stopped Charlie Edwards. They are wins that prove him as a serious fighter. He is promising another special for BoxNation viewers when he meets Cesar Ramirez later this month.
5. EMMANUEL RODRIGUEZ (Puerto Rico)
It says how good Naoya Inoue is to see Rodriguez so high in our rankings. The Japanese great inflicted his only defeat brushing him aside in two rounds, also taking the IBF belt. In May 2018 he impressed in winning the vacant title against Paul Butler, and then defended the crown against Jason Moloney - two sold wins.
4. NONITO DONAIRE (Philippines)
The Filipino four-weight World Champion, who has been boxing professionally since February 2001, has been revitalised since dropping back to Bantamweight after losing to Carl Frampton two divisions north. He had an injury win against Ryan Burnett in the WBSS, but wiped out Stephon Young in the semi-final. A future Hall-of-Famer, but surely Inoue is a step too far when they meet in September.
3. LUIS NERY (Mexico)
A talent, but his career has been overshadowed by weight issues. He was pillared and banned from boxing in Japan when he was three pounds overweight for a WBC Bantamweight Title defence against Shinsuke Yamanaka. He lost his belt on the scales before knocking out Yamanaka in two rounds. He is awaiting a crack at WBC 118lb Champion Nordine Oubaali after becoming number one challenger.
2. ZOLANI TETE (South Africa)
What a shame he had to pull out of the WBSS with a shoulder injury after beating Russian Mikhail Aloyan in their all-southpaw quarter-final. Fans were licking their lips in anticipation of him facing Inoue. Since signing with Frank Warren back in 2016 he has become popular in Britain and boxed here six times. He has been out since last October because of that injury, but must face defend his WBO belt against the winner of Casimero and Ramirez within 90 days of their clash.
1. NAOYA INOUE (Japan)
No wonder he is nicknamed ‘The Monster’ and up there with Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford as boxing’s best. He is already a three-weight World Champion, but has become a global world star in the World Boxing Super Series. The IBF and WBA Champion faces Nonito Donaire on November 7th in the final, and that is daunting for his rival.